Intro: Which Bank Should You Use? The Best Banks in Chicago, Aurora, Springfield, and Other Cities in Illinois

Which banks in Illinois offer the best interest yields? Which banks in Chicago offer accounts with low monthly fees? How can you find Chicago area banks with multiple locations?

Which are the best banks to get a loan from or to do business in Rockford, Aurora, Joliet, Springfield, and other regions in Illinois?

All of these are essential questions to ask yourself when you begin your search for the best banks in Chicago and throughout Illinois. It’s not always obvious whether you should choose one of the smaller top banks in Chicago that may offer better customer service or go with one of the larger nationwide Illinois banks.

Best Banks in Illinois Red Award Emblem

Award Emblem: Top 14 Best Banks in Illinois

Selecting the Best Banks in Chicago and other IL Cities

Choosing the best bank in Illinois is a decision that can impact multiple areas of your life. You want to look beyond exclusive short-term deals or offers and also look for a financial institution that you can support your financial needs well into the future.

As an example, a top Chicago bank can be differentiated from other banks in Illinois in many ways. Some of those include the fees they charge customers, the competitiveness of their interest rates, the ease of use of their online and mobile banking, and the quality of service they consistently deliver.

Also, important when selecting the best banks in Chicago, Illinois, or anywhere in the state, is whether or not they’re convenient and accessible. If you have to run to one of the Chicago area banks at lunchtime, are you going to zip in and out, or stand in line for 30 minutes?

Other important factors to look for in the top banks in Chicago and other cities is the kind of reputation they have among other consumers just like yourself, and what steps they take to make sure your money is always secured and protected.

These considerations and many others were essential in the creation of this ranking of the best banks in Illinois and top Chicago banks.

Each of these banks in the Midwest is trusted, respected, established, and has valuable offerings available to consumers of all types, regardless of their past or present financial situation or their personal financial goals.

See Also: Best Credit Unions in Illinois | Ranking & Reviews

AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Top 14 Best Banks in Illinois for 2020-2021

The list is sorted alphabetically (click any of the bank names below to go directly to the detailed review section for that Illinois bank):

Click here for 2017’s ranking of the Top 14 Best Banks in Illinois

Top 14 Best Banks in Chicago and Other Cities in Illinois | Brief Comparison & Ranking

Best Banks in Illinois

2020-2021 Ratings

Associated Bank5
Bank of America5
BMO Harris5
Fifth Third5
First National Bank of Omaha5
Regions Bank5
TCF Bank5
Woodforest National Bank5
First Midwest Bank3
MB Financial3
PNC Bank3
U.S. Bank3

Table: Top 14 Best Illinois Banks | Above list is sorted by ranking

Common Services Offered by Illinois Banks

While every Illinois bank is unique in some ways (which is an important area of focus in this ranking of the best banks in Chicago and throughout Illinois), many also have similarities and standards that you’ll want to look for.

Some of those similarities are in the types of services they offer. Some of the most common services provided by the best banks in Chicago and by top banks across Illinois include:


Deposits include anything ranging from opening a checking or savings account to opening an interest-bearing money market account to investing in a CD.

Deposits are one of the most popular reasons consumers rely on an Illinois bank. In the U.S., bank deposits are protected by the FDIC for up to $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank, per ownership category.

best banks in chicago

2020-2021 Selection of the Best Banks in Illinois

Online Banking

Online banking is one of the most common services offered by modern banks, and this often also includes mobile banking functionality, with many of the services you would find by visiting a branch.

As more of our activities are now taking place online, consumers looking for the best Illinois banks and top Chicago banks are factoring in the ease of use and functionality of their mobile banking apps and online banking when they make their choice.

Credit Cards

Most banks in Chicago and across the Midwest have not only deposit accounts but also credit card products, with varying interest rates, reward offers, and other features and benefits consumers find attractive.


From mortgages to auto loans, often consumers will obtain loans from their Illinois bank, and in many cases, it might be the same bank they do their other business with.

If you’re pleased with the support you receive at your bank in Illinois, it makes sense that you may also want to go to them first for a loan.

How Do You Select the Best Bank in Illinois?

Choosing a bank can be a major decision, and it’s not one that should be done hastily.

Perhaps the most important factor to consider when selecting from the top banks in Illinois or any state is the fees they charge. Most Chicago banks charge fees on accounts and other services, but consumers should strive to find the lowest fees possible.

As well as saving money on fees, it’s essential to consider how you’ll earn money by choosing one Illinois bank over another. Midwest banks often compete with one another to have the lowest fees but the highest interest rates on deposits.

Don’t assume that all top banks in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois will just offer similar rates, because you may end up missing out on a great deal. For example, while some Illinois banks charge a service fee for a checking account, others may offer fee-free checking.

Convenience is a third important consideration, although, with the rise of online and mobile banking, it’s less important to have branches located near your home or work or to work with a bank that has extended hours.

The top-rated Chicago banks included on our list, as well as the best banks in Illinois, offer online and mobile platforms in some form or the other.

However, if you need a notary service (which many Chicago area banks offer free to customers) or other in-person services, then the location of the bank you choose will be an important consideration for you.

Finally, think about the reputation and customer service offered by a bank. When you have questions or need help with anything involving your money, you want to be able to turn to a trusted advisor. If a bank has a poor reputation for customer service, you may not feel comfortable doing so.

How Do You Switch Banks?

After doing research, you may discover you’d like to switch Illinois banks– so how do you go about doing that?

The first step is, of course, is deciding which Illinois bank you’d like to move to, by comparing factors such as the ones mentioned above.

Once you’ve done that, you can then begin opening new accounts at the bank you select. It’s important to remember not just to open the accounts you need, but also to move any and all automatic transactions to your new bank in Illinois.

This can include recurring payments that are automatically drafted from your account, including those that are set up for online bill pay. You should also transfer automatic and direct deposits that are made into your account, such as from your employer or a PayPal account.

It’s a good idea to keep some money in your old account during the transition, in case there are any automatic or leftover payments you forget.

Once you do close your accounts, you’ll need to have documentation from the bank you’re leaving. Showing that everything is closed out and finalized officially because you don’t want to incur any continuing service fees thinking your account was already closed.

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2020-2021 AdvisoryHQ’s Selection Methodology

What methodology does AdvisoryHQ use in selecting and finalizing the credit cards, financial products, firms, services, and products that are ranked on its various top-rated lists?

Please click here “AdvisoryHQ’s Ranking Methodologies” for a detailed review of AdvisoryHQ’s selection methodologies for ranking top-rated credit cards, financial accounts, firms, products, and services.

Detailed Review—Top Ranking Best Banks in Illinois

Below, please find a detailed review of each bank on our list of 2020-2021 best banks in Illinois. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these top Illinois banks to score so high in our selection ranking.

Don’t Miss: Best Banks & Credit Unions in Chicago, IL

Ally Review

Ally is a bank for the 21st century, being an award-winning online bank that has changed the way people think about banking. While they may be a technology trendsetter, their roots go back nearly 100 years to the auto-lending industry.

Ally Bank offers many of the same types of services that you’d expect from any of the other Chicago banks where you can open a checking or savings account, apply for a home or auto loan, or invest in a CD or stocks and mutual funds.

The company employs a team of 8,200 and is part of the Allpoint® network, giving customers access to over 43,000 free ATMs across the U.S. They advertise that they’re able to offer great rates because they don’t have the expense of branches.

So, if you don’t mind doing all your banking online, Ally could be a great Illinois bank to try.

Key Factors That Allowed Ally to Rank as One of the Best Banks in Illinois

The list below highlights reasons Ally was selected for this ranking of the best banks in Illinois and the best banks in Chicago.

Interest-Bearing Checking

If you’re a fan of growing your money while it’s sitting in your checking account, Ally offers some of the best rates around on interest checking accounts.

They compare their interest checking with other top U.S. and Midwest banks, and their most generous interest rate comes out 3x better than the closest competitor. Ally interest checking rates are:

  • 10% APY for less than $15,000 daily balance
  • 60% APY for $15,000+ daily balance

Check deposits can be done through a smartphone app, and money transfers can be done using Zelle®, and you can even transfer using your voice through Amazon Alexa. One drawback is that you can’t deposit cash in your Ally bank account.

Other benefits include no monthly maintenance fees, and you can open your account online.

Help for First-Time Home Buyers

Buying a home for the first time can be daunting. Ally not only makes it easy to apply for a home loan online, but it also offers helpful information for first-time buyers so they can get the guidance they need to make an informed decision about home-ownership.

Ally’s page discusses the typical out-of-pocket costs when you first buy a home and things you should take into consideration during the planning process.

Ally is one of the banks in the Midwest that gives potential home buyers online tools that can make the entire home buying process easier and more manageable. Their tools include

  • Monthly Payment Calculator
  • Affordability Calculator
  • Savings Goal Calculator

Self-Directed Trading

If you’re looking for one of the Chicago area banks that offers more than just checking and savings accounts and can also help you with your investment needs, Ally has your back.

Not only do they offer a variety of investment vehicles, such as ETFs, Certificates of Deposit, stocks, bonds, and more, they also offer the ability to do self-directed trading through their online tool.

You can trade commission-free for the first 90 days, and use their tools to research investments, analyze your portfolio, and make trades from anywhere. There’s no account minimum to get started.

Ally partners with market leaders to offer high-quality ETFs from Vanguard, GlobalX, iShares, and more.

Illinois Bank Review Summary

While some people may have a problem banking with an institution that doesn’t have any physical locations, Ally goes out of their way to support their customers via phone, chat, and multiple online tools designed to make banking easy.

These days, more people are using online banking apps even at more traditional Illinois banks, so for many, never going to a branch won’t really make much of a difference. The benefit is that due to less overhead, Ally can offer great interest rates. This innovative bank scores a 5-star rating.

Associated Bank Review

Associated Bank is known for strong community relationships and has roots reaching back to the late 1800s. It remains committed to a strong vision and defined values. This Midwest bank and financial services company demonstrates a consistent commitment to customers, colleagues, communities, and shareholders.

As part of Associated Bank-Corp., with headquarters in Green Bay, Wisconsin, this leader among Illinois banks has approximately 4,700 employees serving over a million customers on 200+ banking centers throughout 120 different communities.

Along with Illinois, locations of Associated Bank are also found in Minnesota and Wisconsin. They offer commercial financial services in five other states.

Key Factors That Allowed Associated Bank to Rank as One of the Best Banks in Illinois

The list below highlights reasons Associated Bank was selected for this ranking of the best banks in Illinois and the best banks in Chicago.

Security Center

With so many high-profile hacking and data theft scandals impacting credit card and particularly debit cardholders over recent years, Associated Bank strives to put security at the top of the priority list for their services, as well as when it comes to offering education and resources for customers.

The Security Center available from Associated Bank includes educational resources on topics ranging from fraudulent email to Internet purchases to why a VPN might not give you the protection you think when doing online banking.

There are also tools and guides to protecting yourself against a range of threats, updates on recent scams, and quick and easy links to the resources that customers need to report potential fraud or cards that may be lost or stolen. 

Refer a Friend

One of the signature offers from this top bank in Illinois is their Refer a Friend program. Under this program, when current customers refer anyone to the bank, and they open and use a new checking account, both they and the referred friend can receive a $50 Visa® Reward Card.

To do this, users first register their information online. They then provide contact information and valid information for the friend or family member they’re referring, or the offer can be shared on social media.

Once the friend or family member registers, opens a new account, and completes a set of requirements, within 4-6 weeks after the requirements have been met, both parties receive the $50 gift card.

The fact that account owners referring a friend can earn up to $500 a year for referrals is another way that Associated Bank stands out as one of the top banks in Chicago and Illinois.

Checking Benefits

Associated Bank is one of the best banks in Chicago and throughout all of Illinois and one consumer advantage that puts them in that position is their attractive checking account benefits.

These advantages include overdraft protection transfer service, the ability to order checks and bank online, and direct deposit. This is one of the Illinois banks that offers tiered checking options so customers can choose the account that fits their needs best.

Checking account holders from Associated Bank have free ATM access at more than 32,000 MoneyPass® surcharge-free ATMs throughout the country, which all boast advanced technology for efficiency and security.

Using these ATMs lets customers deposit multiple checks and cash without a deposit slip or envelope, anytime and anywhere.

Digital Payments

As a technologically advanced Illinois bank, Associated Bank offers many digital payment options for consumers.

These include:

  • Apple Pay: This can be used in conjunction with Associated Bank MasterCard and Visa debit and credit cards to pay thousands of merchants across the country.
  • Samsung Pay: For Samsung devices, this is created using Associated Bank debit or credit cards, offering easy payment options and simple setup.
  • G Pay: G Pay by Google allows Android users to add a credit or debit card from your bank or link a PayPal account for quick and easy payments

Illinois Bank Review Summary

Associated Bank has proven itself in communities throughout the Midwest as a trusted banking partner that’s there for the long haul for its customers.

Through features like their Security Center and modern payment tools, they also show they not only have a rich history, but are also well-positioned for the future. We’ve scored Associated Bank with a 5-star rating.

Related: Best Banks & Credit Unions in Chicago, IL

First Midwest Bank Review

First Midwest Bank is considered one of the best banks in Chicago, Illinois, where its headquarters are located. As well as being considered a pick for the best bank in Chicago, First Midwest also maintains more than 100 locations across Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa.

This is also one of the Chicago area banks that offers multiple free ATMs around the world, being part of the Allpoint® network of more than 55,000 no-charge ATMs.

Services available from First Midwest Bank include consumer and business banking, as well as commercial and wealth management products and services.

Something that makes First Midwest Bank a top choice for many consumers among other Chicago banks is the fact that it combines the resources of a large Illinois bank with the customer service of an intimate community bank.

Key Factors Leading Us to Rank First Midwest Bank as One of the Top Banks in Illinois in 2020-2021

Listed below are some of the essential reasons First Midwest was selected as one of the leading banks in Chicago and the top banks in Illinois.

Instant Check Cashing

For customers who have checks that need to be cashed quickly, there are instant check cashing options available from First Midwest.

With this feature, money is immediately available, without the need to wait for a check to clear. Cash can be obtained regardless of account balance, and this feature requires no checking account to use.

Nearly any type of check can be cashed using Instant Check Cashing, including:

  • Personal
  • Payroll
  • Business
  • Insurance agency
  • Cashier’s checks
  • Money orders
  • Two-party checks
  • Traveler’s checks
  • Rebates
  • Stock dividends
  • Tax refunds
  • Tax preparation firm checks
  • Government tax refunds
  • Federal, state, and municipal government checks


If you’re looking for a way to invest without having to come up with a large chunk of money at one time, this is one of the Midwest banks that has a special program to do that.

Their Build-a-Buck program offers a systematic and innovative investment vehicle. You can make small, regular deposits into automatically renewable Certificates of Deposit, which makes it easy for those who want to invest to do it without a huge upfront outlay.

Investors can deposit as little as $25 a month, which has to be set up through an automatic fund transfer from a First Midwest, checking, savings, or Money Market account. A $100 minimum initial deposit to open the account is required.

Student Checking

If you’re looking for the top banks in Illinois that help students get started with a banking relationship, First Midwest Bank may be among your top choices.

They offer student checking accounts for students between the ages of 16-23, that give them basic features without any monthly fee to eat into their account balance.

Some of the benefits that this Midwest bank offers in their student checking accounts include:

  • Free ATM transactions at over 55,000 Allpoint® ATMs and First Midwest ATMs
  • Free eStatements
  • Free mobile and online banking
  • Unlimited check writing privileges
  • Upgrades, like a standard debit MasterCard and 0.25% discounts on secured consumer installment loans

First Midwest Bank - best banks in illinois

Online Banking at Top Banks in Chicago and Illinois

Apple Pay

Customers of First Midwest can make secure purchases and transactions using their debit cards and Apple Pay. iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch already have the Passbook app preloaded, making it even easier for users.

All that needs to be done is the addition of the First Midwest Bank Debit Card by taking a picture of the card within the Passbook app. Then users can manage their cards and set their First Midwest card as their default.

Payment is then as simple as possible using Touch ID. Users simply hold their Apple device near the card reader, and their purchase is completed at thousands of participating retailers.

The smooth integration of mobile banking and Apple Pay makes First Midwest one of the best banks in Chicago for iOS users to consider banking with.

Illinois Bank Review Summary:

First Midwest Bank is one of the top Chicago area banks that offers you multiple options for checking accounts and the ability to invest, even if you don’t have a lot of cash to put in upfront.

We did notice that they’ve discontinued some programs like Tuition Rewards, and the page for electronic transfer accounts is no longer found on their site. This could cause some customers to feel let down if they’re enrolled in a program that’s later discontinued, and for this reason, we’ve rated First Midwest with 3-stars.

Popular Article: Best Credit Unions in Texas (Statewide)

First National Bank of Omaha Review

First National Bank of Omaha was founded in 1857 and has been committed to the delivery of superior customer service since then, whether that’s working with individuals and families, or corporate clients.

As one of the preferred banks in Chicago, First National Bank locations are found throughout Illinois as well as several other states, including Nebraska, Texas, South Dakota, Kansas, and Colorado.

The bank maintains $23 billion in assets and 5,000 employees. Core values at First National include integrity, respect, and passion, all with a mission of creating and maintaining long-term relationships.

Key Factors That Enabled First National Bank of Omaha to Rank as One of the Top Banks in Illinois

Below are a few of the reasons First National Bank of Omaha was included in this ranking of the best banks in Illinois and one of the top banks in Chicago.

Positive Community Impact

First National Bank of Omaha believes in being more than just a Midwest bank, they believe in building strong communities, and they take their community impact initiatives seriously.

First National Bank of Omaha stays true to the communities it serves through philanthropic investments in over 1,200 nonprofit organizations.

Between 2016 and 2020, the bank has four key community-related goals that they’ve been working towards, some of which they’ve already achieved and some that are near hitting their target.

These goals include:

  • Create or retain 25,000 jobs
  • Bring 50,000 people closer to financial wellness
  • Build, rehabilitate, or finance 5,000 homes
  • Host 1,000 community events

Three Checking Account Options

When signing up for a checking account at this Illinois bank, you can choose from one of the three-tiered options, one of which is entirely free.

Account options include:

Free Checking Account

  • No monthly service fee
  • No minimum opening deposit
  • No minimum balance requirement

Premier Checking Account

  • Interest earning
  • No monthly service fee with an average daily balance of $15,000
  • Enhanced First National relationship benefits

Access Debit Account

  • No overdraft or return item fees
  • No minimum opening deposit
  • No minimum balance requirement
  • $4 monthly service fee

Visa Checkout

First National Bank clients can participate in the Visa Checkout program using their First National Bank Visa Card, as well as other digital payment options, like, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.

The benefits of using Visa Checkout include the option to pay with a single login from any device, data that’s protected by multiple layers of security, and the options to keep earning card rewards.

When you enroll your First National Bank Visa Card in Visa Checkout, you never have to re-enter your card or address information with any participating merchant or retailer.

Wealth and Investing

As one of the best Midwest banks, First National Bank features many wealth management and investment services and products as well as traditional individual retail banking.

Professionals from this leading Illinois bank can work with customers to achieve financial security through planning and goal creation, and they can also work with clients to protect and maximize their wealth.

Also available through the wealth and investment services at First National is the option to create tributary funds and education savings accounts.

Banks in Chicago Review Summary:

First National Bank of Omaha stands out among other top Chicago banks due to their strong commitment to making a positive difference in the communities where they have a footprint.

From helping people achieve financial security to focusing on financial education, this is a bank in Illinois that has their customers’ best interests at heart, which is one of the reasons they’ve earned a 5-star rating.

To browse exclusive reviews of all top rated banks in Illinois, please click on any of the links below:

Read more: Ranking of the Best Banks in Florida

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Conclusion—Top 14 Banks in Illinois

To most consumers, a bank is much more than somewhere that allows them to write checks. Banks have evolved over the years, and along with offering basic depository services, they’ve become full-service institutions that provide high-level products, services, and technology.

Partnering with the top banks in Chicago and the best Midwest banks can help a consumer build a healthier financial future, meet individual goals, and remain empowered when it comes to the management of their money.

Of course, this is if they choose the right bank.

It was with those considerations in mind that the above list of the best banks in Chicago and the overall best banks throughout the state of Illinois were selected.

This ranking of the best banks in Illinois includes big-name national banks as well as smaller community banks and an exclusively online bank. Still, regardless of size, they each have a superior reputation and are dedicated to serving the needs of their customers, whatever those needs may be.

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Ranking of Banks in Illinois
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Banks in Illinois